School’s out

I teach a lot. I mostly teach writing, though I do give a mean Beowulf lecture. I teach at University of Queensland in their postgraduate writing program, I designed the content for the Queensland Writers Centre’s Year of the Novel online program, I have mentored emerging writers, and I teach at the Queensland Writers Centre on a range of different programs: usually taking up about a dozen weekend days a year. I have been immensely privileged to see the slow waking of passion in writers, as they realise they can finally fulfill their dream of writing a story. I feel so appreciated by my many students, and now by my Faculty at UQ who have just awarded me a Teaching Excellence Award (this follows on from the Research Excellence Award I won in September, so colour me delighted).

My last Year of the Novel class for 2011

But it’s time for me to take a little breather. Having two kids and one job is hard enough. Add into the mix that I am also two authors, and I teach in the community, and it totals about four jobs all together so unless I can figure out a way to survive without sleep, the madness has to end. I’m taking a year off from the Year of the Writer program at QWC and have been successful in my application for sabbatical from UQ for first semester next year. This means I get to take a semester off from teaching to work on a research project, and it also means I’m going to be spending a lot of time wandering around northern England and Scotland looking at the ways Vikings have been memorialised in local culture and tourism.

As much as I love teaching, I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have a break from it. I have a pretty efficient engine, that can run on very little fuel. But after the year I’ve had, I have a deep, deep need to fill myself to the brim with the equivalent of that fancy 98-octane middle-class petrol. (You see how much I need a break? My metaphors are starting to suck). Then I reckon, I can produce something wonderful.

Thanks to all my past students, who have challenged me to articulate what makes good writing and thereby made me a better writer.

5 responses to “School’s out

  1. …and thank-you very much for the teaching and encouragement you’ve given me, Kim, during the YOTN online. I’m 90,000 words into my first high-fantasy novel now and it would have been so much harder without your advice.

    I just got back from Italy – first time o/s with my husband (kids in tow), first time we’ve taken more than four days holiday since we started our business. Made me feel like a different person. How great is travel when you need inspiration? Enjoy your break and the research.

  2. Your passion and writerly wisdom have made me a better (and more disciplined) writer, Kim. I feel very privileged to have passed through your orbit. Thank you. And congrats on the much-deserved change of pace to come!

  3. The Sabbatical sounds wonderful, and intriguing. Selfishly I can’t wait to read whatever comes from your research:) I love your fiction writing and I’m glad you have the opportunity for a break combined with research and travel..an invigorating /inspiring combination. Have fun!

  4. Hi Kim – a former student / long-time admirer here. I hadn’t read your blog in a long time but I am reading The Autumn Castle and Hexebart reminded me to stop by. I picked up Autumn Castle after deciding I needed to read something with a story that I couldn’t put down, because I had been struggling through (Pulitzer-prize winning) Middlesex, which was boring me senseless, and after 150 pages I thought ‘bugger this, life’s too short’. So I dropped Middlesex and picked up one of yours, which I find myself stealing away to read at every opportunity. I am glad to read of your recent success with Wildflower Hill. Thanks for being a great writer and teacher. Tara Burns.

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